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Papa Mia: An enduring Italian foodie favorite

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angela Cheng

412-1, DongXing Rd, Sec 3, Xitun Dist.
(04) 2328-6034
Hours: 11:30 am-2 pm, 5:30-9 pm
English menu available.
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.

Next year, Papa Mia Italian Restaurant will mark its 20th year in business. Despite its cozy, low-profile location opposite Tempus Hotel, this is a truly exceptional establishment that regularly earns praise from discerning local "foodies" for authentic, outstanding pizzas and pasta. In fact, this writer knows at least one retired foreign investment banker who still swears it has the best thin-crust pizza he's tasted anywhere in the world.

There is actually an interesting history here, as Papa Mia is in some ways the "papa" of several excellent local restaurants. Back at the beginning, it started as a partnership between three young, talented chefs. Two eventually went their own ways and founded their own very successful restaurants while current chef/owner Ada Yen stuck with Papa Mia and is responsible for its enduring success.

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Left: Papa Mia owner/chef Ada Yen
Tomato & Gorgonzola Pizza (NT$350)

The warm, inviting two-floor interior regularly fills with old-timers and first-timers alike. Chef Yen has maintained most of her popular entrees over the past two decades but continues periodically adding new items. A great way to start is with an appetizer, like a truly wonderful Grilled Vegetables with Balsamico (NT$250), a lightly-grilled, flavored-packed assembly of eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, baby corn and zucchini served with balsamic vinegar.

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Left: Gnocchi with Seafood Tomato Sauce (NT$350)
Grilled Vegetables with Balsamico (NT$250)

Diners can choose from seven pasta noodles, like handmade fettucine, for two dozen-plus toppings, such as Sauteed Scallops & Broccoli, made with imported US scallops, and a slightly-newer addition, Shrimp in Bisqui Sauce (NT$340), with a warming, savory sauce created by cooking lobster heads and other crustacean parts with veggies and tomatoes for three hours. Two other top handmade-pasta choices include the Lasagne with Meat Sauce (NT$350) and Gnocchi with Seafood Tomato Sauce. Among non-pasta entrees are two newer risotto dishes and favorite Beef Tenderloin with Shrimp & Garlic Butter (NT$550).

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Shrimp in Bisqui Sauce with Penne (NT$340)

Most regulars would agree that it would be a sin to miss the amazing 10-inch pizzas (NT$300-380) here which--unlike the "Napoli-style" pizzas that are the current rage--feature a satisfying, crunchier Roma-style crust. Pizzas (and all entrees) are available for take-out and Ada and her crew can also bring the feast to you, thanks to their catering services.

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